Courtesy Valery Oisteanu

Remembering Steve Dalachinsky (1946-2019)

Who was Steve Dalachinsky?

I met Steve Dalachinsky in 1974, when he was selling books and records on Spring Street in SoHo. From him I bought rare books by underground poets and collagists, and later his own limited-edition books. He was a post-beat poet, a friend of Ted Joans, Ira Cohen, Jack Micheline and many others.  His Renaissance-tinged attitude toward jazz, correspondence art, collage and performance with music earned him a seat in New York City’s boho-bohemian orchestra of troubadours.

He was a Jewish boychik from Brooklyn with an advanced sense of street humor. The list of his meteoric performances, videos, mail art-postcards, books and CDs is massive. No one in my lifetime gave himself to art and music every day of his life the way Steve did. An envious older poet once said to him, “I want to have what you have…” But that ineffable spirit of a true jazz-poet comes very seldom, and it is unrepeatable and unmarketable.

I will treasure our Exquisite Corpses — the surrealist collages on 8×10 paper we created together with Yuko, his wife, at Tompkins Square Library years ago. In Steve I lost a great collaborator. The Rebellious Dynamic Duo is no more, but jazz-poetry lives on and never dies.

A Final Note for Steve Dalachinsky — Poem by Valery Oisteanu

Tragedy after tragedy

Steve has gone like a soluble fish in the ocean

Melting in swirls of colors

Breaking in the rhythms of a trumpet

Dissolving in a glass of gin & tonic

Escaping the junkyards of trivia

Making echoes in the streets of SoHo

Cantankerous voice heckling my readings

Everyday someone leaves their apartment

And does not comes back ever again

Now he is wearing my unfinished haiku

Steve, part of a composition without a coda

In every garden, in every jazz joint

I am watching a video on Facebook

At his last reading he was riffing: In the end, in the end…

Over and over: In the end, in the end… 

But what is the end? The end of space?

Is that what he meant? The tragic Kabuki

I refuse to believe that an eclipse

Is the final view of the Moon

The Rebel Duo lost its trio

Steve will rise again like a shadow ghost

Not in Long Island but here in the East Village

His poetry, his effervescent spirit

Will haunt us till the day we die




Posted in Art

Valery Oisteanu is a writer and artist with international appeal. He has 10
books of poetry in English, 3 in Romanian, a book of short fiction “The
King of Penguins” & a book of visual poetry collages “Lighter Than Air”
Oisteanu is a recipient of Aker Award (2013) for avant-garde poetry
performances “Jazzoetry”.



5 thoughts on “Remembering Steve Dalachinsky (1946-2019)

  1. What a beautiful tribute. I wish I had known him. The line…:Now he is wearing my unfinished haiku” I will keep for a long time to come.

    1. That means so much coming from you… I only met Steve and his wife Yuko last summer – both amazing talents and radiant people. If I had not run into them later, by chance on an errand one day and been invited, I never would have seen him perform. Life takes some touching turns, doesn’t it?

  2. I just went to Steve’s FB page to congratulate him on the exquisite review of his new book “Where Night and Day Become One: The French Poems” in American Book Review. I’m shocked and saddened to learn this news of his death. I will get the book which sounds so tantalizing. RIP Steve.

  3. Valery, my heart breaks for your loss–the loss to all of us for different reasons, for the same reasons, for the loss of this great presence, this diminutive giant. I know how tight you were. Those of us who knew him, along with his beloved Yuko, will keep his memory alive. He was a unique being. Shimmering in the headlights. I loved your poem. Brooklyn boychik. So apt. We are solidly ephemeral, we humans. That’s how it goes. I send love to you, my friend, at this sad time.

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